"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." - Revelations 3:16
With the election of Donald Trump and the rise of "far right" politicians all over Europe and Canada's Conservative party being lead by people like Kellie Leitch, who parrot Trump's hateful rhetoric, it's clear we are repeating history. Again.
Trump's election has many people saying this was a rejection of "PC / Liberal" culture. And although it's a morally bankrupt stance, they are right. I lay the blame for that rejection on society's embrace of the lukewarm "PC / liberal" value of Tolerance.
Tolerance isn't a virtue. You tolerate zits. Not people.
Tolerance implies living with people that are not like you is a "necessary evil". Like waiting for that zit on your face to go away. And that's the problem. Eventually you want that zit to go away.
Tolerance presumes that an effort must be made at "restraint" as opposed to acceptance & understanding. Tolerance has allowed bigotry to be normalized, yet remain unspoken. Not for fear of unleashing the worst of human traits, but for fear of being "impolite".
Only in a tolerant society, could having manners become "Political Correctness". Replace "I'm sick of all this political correctness" with "I'm sick of having to care about other people" and you see how sociopathic it sounds.
Indeed, the very basis of civilization is being civil with each other, but somewhere along the line, we seem to think that's become too burdensome.
That could only happen in a society where "tolerating" and not loving people became the standard of decency.
Only in a "tolerant" society could we have so much access to information and so little wisdom to use it. Only in a tolerant society could someone's "opinion" have as much value as someone else's knowledge.
Only in a tolerant society, could manners, thoughtfulness and respect become "political correctness" as opposed to the foundation of a progressive, inclusive society. Only in a tolerant society, could hatred, selfishness and bigotry become "personality quirks" as opposed to open roads to the most anti-human and life threatening outcomes our planet has ever seen.
In my opinion, Tolerance assigns value to things that have none. Is it any wonder that "post-truth" and "post-fact" have become a thing now?
The running theory is now that all these far right nationalists are winning elections, we are supposed to "re-examine" our focus on liberalism and "political correctness". With many on the political Left calling for a rejection of both.
They couldn't be more right. We do need to re-examine our focus on those things. And reject the parts that take us away from what our unassailable core principles should be.
I for one, have examined "tolerance" as a virtue and found it wanting. We need to reject "tolerance" as surely as we must reject bigotry and we must double down on our progressive principles of love, respect & truth and be willing to fight for those principles at every turn. How soon we forget that Progressivism sprang from a world that was decidedly non-Progressive. We have seen what the alternative is. We saw it in World War 1. We saw it in World War 2. We saw it in the Balkans in the 90s and we saw it in Rwanda. To truly be able to say "never again", we must continue to reject it for the sake of each other and the sake of our planet.
Tolerance has lead to a lukewarm society, where threats to unjust "societal norms" like homophobia, racism, sexism, etc could be seen as threats to "free speech" and "intellectual diversity". There is nothing intellectual about the most illogical of human tendencies and while "free speech" is valuable, speech that normalizes bigotry is not.
Our tolerance for the intolerable has lead us right back down a familiar, horrible path. The truth is, if you're not rejecting something outright, you are leaving space for it to be accepted.
A lot of us grew up in a PC / Liberal society and thanks to the failure of tolerance, we may just get a very brutal reminder of why that culture developed in the first place.
History has taught us that when you don't value people, when you don't value TRUTH, when you don't value FACTS, when you don't value LOVE, bad things happen. Really bad things. The answer to bigotry and hatred has never been "tolerance". It's always been LOVE. Love is an active thing. Love brings with it understanding, empathy and compassion. Tolerance does none of those things, because tolerance requires none of those things. Being tolerant let us think people's petty bigotries and ignorance were on par with facts and moral absolutes like truth and justice. Things that at times do stir up passions and conflict, but always necessary when in the service of love and righteousness.
We need to stand more firmly on our truths and reaffirm our progressive vision of the world; where optimism, principled leadership, hope for the future, courage of our convictions and a fearless embrace of the best in us, leaves no "safe space" for the worst in us.
The fact is, anyone who's mind has been twisted to accept any form of bigotry that may not directly affect you, can and will have their mind twisted to embrace some form of bigotry that will eventually affect you.
One need only look at the "white working class" that voted overwhelmingly for Trump and then look at Trump's cabinet picks; union-busting, corporate raiders who've consistently fought fair pay and workers rights, for proof of that.
People referred to Trump as the lesser of two evils; that could only happen in a society where we see someone's struggle against a particular form of evil as their own and not our own.
What we are witnessing is not new. In "tough economic times" Nationalists ALWAYS scapegoat "others" & people do the same thing: buy into it, elect some loud mouth who blames everything but the REAL problem, then a bunch of ppl end up dying (because hey, who wants to run around with a zit on their face forever, right?) then everyone wonders what went wrong. Rinse. Repeat.
We've seen what the world looks like before "PC culture". It was a world where women were little more than walking, incubators, where children of people that weren't part of the rich, ruling class were forced to labour under horrific conditions, where "minorities" were seen as less than human and everyday workers had next to no rights.
Donald Trump isn't even sworn in yet and already we're seeing a return to the ideas and ideologies we rejected for good reason. Texas and Ohio have outlawed abortion, a court has struck down overtime laws that guaranteed more pay for 4.2 MILLION members of the same "working class" that voted him in and Trump's pick for education secretary bankrolls an organization that thinks we should do away with child labour laws "for the poor children's own good".
My hope is that in this new intolerant world, the muddied waters of the lukewarm, tolerant world we built get laid bare so we see clearly, once and for all just what we rejected in the first place.
And this time, my hope is we'll never forget it and hopefully, never repeat it.